Thursday, March 17, 2016

Irish Fairy Tales

By Kristy McCaffrey

The Irish have a great lore concerning fairies. It is believed that fairies are “fallen angels who were not good enough to be saved, nor bad enough to be lost.”

The Tuatha Dé Danann (an ancient supernatural race that resided in Ireland according to Irish mythology) became the fairies that are spoken of today. The Tuatha Dé Danann represent the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland.

The king of the Tuatha De Danann--Nuada--led his people to
victory in war but lost an arm when one of the Fir Bolgs
sliced it off.
The Irish word for fairy is sidheóg (pronounced sheehogue). Fairies are daoine sidhe (deenee shee), meaning fairy people.

Fairies live on the earth and the visible world is their skin. We travel among them in dreams. They occupy themselves with feasting, fighting, making love, and creating the most beautiful music. Among the fairies live the lepra-caun, also known as the shoemaker. Maybe they wear their shoes out with so much dancing. Near the village of Ballisodare was a little woman who lived among them for seven years. When she returned home, she had no toes for she had danced them all off.

Fairies have three great festivals during the year—May Eve, Midsummer Eve, and November Eve.

On May Eve (April 30, also called Beltane), the fairies fight every seventh year for the best ears of grain. An old man once described how the thatch of a house was torn off during such a scuffle, although to anyone else it would have been seen as simply a great wind.

On Midsummer Eve (between June 21 and June 24, the Summer Solstice), bonfires are burned to honor St. John and this is when the fairies are the happiest. Sometimes they steal beautiful mortal women to be their brides.

On November Eve (October 31, also called Samhain—pronounced sow-een), fairies are at their gloomiest because this is the first night of winter. They dance with ghosts, and witches make their spells, and pooka abound (hobgoblins). After this night the blackberries have been spoiled by the pooka and can no longer be eaten.

Up the airy mountain,
            Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a hunting
            For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
            Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
            And white owl’s feather!
                                    ~ From The Fairies by William Allingham

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Works Cited
“Tuatha Dé Danann.” Wikipedia. <>
Yeats, W.B. Irish Fairy & Folk Tales. Fall River Press, 1892.

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